Permenent Moorings

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Added 11/17/04


I find myself in the most enviable position of being in possession of approximately 400 lbs of junk iron.  In fact it is 400 lbs. of 18-wheeler tire chains.Therefore, I'm a thinkin' - why not build a mooring.  Now, down in Dixie (the Gulf Coast to be specific) we don't do many moorings.  So, here's what I need to know.

On a hard muddy bottom, how much boat will 400 lbs of tire chains hold
given enough time to bury in the mud?
Do I have to ask permission from anyone to build a mooring?
Do I own it?  Can I ask someone to untie from it if I built it?
Do I have to notify the USCG of it's location so that it can be charted?
How long does the floaty ball last before it needs replacement?

What else do I need to know about moorings?

-Danny Crump-



Here is the link to the WM catalog page about building a mooring. Can't helpwith the legalities, tho.




Re: Sea Scout Ship 532,  Sandy Hook Bay, NJ

In order to cut our expenditures for berthing, etc. (it takes a lot of popcorn sales to pay for a berth for a C-30) we are considering sinking a permanent anchorage in an area just outside the marina.  There are several used mushrooms available for sale and I wanted some advice if a 500 lb. mushroom with rode would be sufficient?

We are in the Bay but the only protection from the ocean is Sandy Hook National Park which is a seven mile strip of ocean beach.  The area we're considering is a designated anchorage for transient vessels.  Also how much rode would be necessary, or is it the more the better?
This would of course be only for summer mooring (April 1 through October 31) and we have a 13' Boston Whaler with a 15hp outboard to transit in and out to the mooring.  All suggestions or experiences with anchoring out long term would be appreciated.

George Morgan          
Sea Scout Ship 532
C-30 HIN 284



Danny, your mooring is your preperty and if somebody ties his boat onto it, he´s got to release it when you ask him to (whether you´re arriving in your boat or not, as a guy might tie up a boat that´s too biig for the miooring and might drag it). My ball float is now 8 years old and is in perfectly good condition. As far as applying to/ getting permission from, I have the impression that the EPA might also come into the picture.

pampero iv


A permit from the Amry Corp of Engineers is necessary sometimes. You willalso need to check local gov't requirements.



Hi George,

I hate to be a party pooper, but I ( and many others) have great concerns about anchorages being taken over by moorings.  In the BVI's now just about every anchorage is filled with mooring balls where you can pay $25US to tie up to.  You can get into quite an argument when you drop an anchor there because you are effectively eliminating 2-3 mooring ball locations (swing space) and the mooring ball owners get quite irate.

What has this do do with your situation?  Nothing immediately, but where one mooring starts, others soon follow until there is no place for those who prefer to anchor. Now if you drop a second mooring where I can tie up for free, that would be greatly appreciated.




should let this go but...I have a lot of doubts about moorings myself. Ifyou drop a "permanent anchorage" and mark it, it is a mooring in my opinionand if everyone took up convenient anchorage locations with their own"permanent anchorages", there would be even less capability to make sailing voyages, then there is now. What about those other folks that may need to make a safer transit of the NJ coast?

And I think I could go along with the idea that marina moorings like every other greed operation in America is quickly ruining a perfectly good sailing life. Lots of folks don't have 50 ft yachts and $ for $30-$35 dollar transient slips every night of their voyaging life.

You can be hard put today in many places (like MA & CT coastlines for instance) to find a good anchorage that someone hasn't claimed is their private "shoreline" or mooring area, or that some marina hasn't claimed and filled with moorings the price of a cheap motel.

If you want to just take a voyage and find an anchorage spot for a night or two, it can get pretty touchy in some parts of the coastal areas. Before much longer we will have Motel 6 Moorings and Marriott Moorings to choose from everywhere except in town owned harbors where the Town will get you for the price of an overnight stay.

Ditto the idea of having to move on in three days even if you are willing to pay for dockage space etc.

I don't have much problem with paying for services rendered (launch services, marina slips, pumpouts, dock space, or resident fees in lieu of taxes if you are living and working there, etc. but I don't like the idea that someone claims to "own" a natural inlet or bay because they own land or a business on that particular piece of coast line.

But lots of things happen I don't like....mostly out of greed for the almighty dollar, and/or because every coastal property owner, town, county, state, and federal entity feels they are entitled to make  "rules" for everyone to follow. Personally, I don't think anyone should be entitled to "own" anything out more than a foot from the tideline or dock ends, if it is a natural inlet and not a man made (dug in from the coastline) basin. If it's part of a natural body of water everyone is equally entitled to make use of it for anchoring beyond any dock line and outside any traffic entrance path.



Please don't.  I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about moorings.  I am very interested in your opinion - and everyone else's opinion.  That's why I posed the question.


Thanks for your comments.

Here's another couple of more questions:

If a hard mud bottom is 15' deep then how much chain would you use to span from the bottom to the floatee thing?

How deep do you think the anchor (400 lbs of truck tire chains) would settle into the mud?

How long do you think the galvanized chains would last before they would become unsafe for usage?

Am I obliged to clean up the rusty remnants of the truck chains once my mooring becomes unusable?

-Danny Crump-



Check "Permanent Moorings" in Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship. My editionis 61st, and information is on pages 274-275. It recommends either a 3anchor bridle system or a mushroom anchor of at least 250 lbs for a 35 ft cruising sailboat.  Alternately, some moorings are put in with equivalent weights in concrete blocks.

I would think tire chains would tend to lay flatter and be less useful in holding power but I'm not experienced with moorings at all, so investigate further on that. I would suspect they would not sink in as much and be much easier to pull out in a blow, but that is just opinion.

Chapman also recommends heavy chain (1 inch) equal to 1 1/2 X the maximum depth of water plus light chain 3/8 in. equal to the maximum depth of the water, as the system between mooring and the buoy, with a 20 foot pennant of 1 1/2 in. nylon rode.

Of course, the vessel weight and amount of protection available can be considered too, as that will play a role; but maybe the above will help in your considerations.

I can't answer your last two questions but I think the "responsibility" for clean up should be investigated from both an environmental requirement and a moral perspective. Even if you just leave old chain down there, you may be impacting someone's future safety when they hook into it and think it feels solid when they are just hooked into junk.  Then there is the "how clean dowe want to keep our seas..." issue - - - - -




Danny, I don't believe it is the "weight" so much as it is the type of mooring anchor that makes a difference.  I personally don't think the truck chains will work that well as they have no inherent design that would contribute to them burying themselves deeper in the mud than where they landed.  There's nothing to help them bury and keep from dragging.

At our club we use mushroom anchors of various sizes.  As they are tugged in all directions, the lip of the mushroom head tends to dig deeper into the bottom.  I can't see chains acting this way.  Down in Annapolis they use a screw-in mooring anchor that a diver sets and corkscrews into the bottom. The mooring ball's chain is attached to the top--they're about 3 feet or more in length.

As to length, our clubs' moorings are set to have some slack at the highest normal high tide.  You don't want boats wandering around to far and coming together in the mooring field.

Hope this helps.  Also hope you're battened down for the mad russian!

Dan Johnson
1972 Coronado 27 #316
Sailing out of Charlestown, MD



If you use concrete blocks remember that 250 lbs of concrete does not equal a 250 lb anchor. Concrete is lighter in water due to trapped air. Have a friend who found out the hard way.....lost his boat in a storm when the mooring didn't hold. Good luck.




I think I am going to abandon my plans simply because I don't have any way to remove the chain when the mooring becomes unserviceable.  I would hate to think that someone had fouled and lost their expensive fortress anchor because I neglected my social responsibility.

Hey, wait a minute.  Maybe I should spread those chains out in a spider web pattern.  And, if I learned to dive and checked every two weeks I just might able to acquire that expensive Fortress anchor that I currently am unable to afford.  Hummmm......

-Danny Crump-




I have an idea how you can use the truck chains.

1. Dig a circular pit about 3-4 feet in diameter and about 3 feet deep,. dished
out like a saucer.
2. Line the pit with plastic.
3. Pour concrete into the pit.
4. Make a pipe about 5 feet tall and 2 inches thick, with a 12" disk welded to
the bottom of the pipe, into the concrete.
5. Drill holes in the pipe to attach a large shackle to the pipe.
5. Place the chain into the concrete, distributing it evenly around the pipe and
the circular concrete-filled pit.
6. Attach 15 feet of 5/8" chain to the shackle, and a mooring pennant and float
to the chain..

Then you'd have a concrete mushroom anchor weighted with the chain.   I don't know how much it would weigh, but it would hold much better than the chain itself. The chain would strengthen the concrete like rebar.  For added strength, you could weld the links of the chain together, and to the bottom of the pipe. That would be even stronger.

Or you could buy a suitable mushroom anchor from a place like Hamilton Marine.

Steven Gaber
Sanderling, 1967 C-31 #77
Oldsmar, Florida



I've been thinking about a mooring vs. a permanent anchorage.  I don't know the rules on the East Coast but out here on the left coast you need a permit from the appropriate authority to set a mooring.  In San Diego bay all moorings are owned by the port authority and leased to individuals for a nominal fee (by our standards).  There is one anchorage where permanent anchorages are tolerated until they get too messy and then the port authority enforces the rules and cleans it out.  I would think that if you set a "mooring" (really a permanent anchor) on your own without any permits that it would be very difficult to enforce exclusive use.  Here not only would you not be able to enforce it, you would most likely be told to removeit or pay big fines.



:-))) Yeah Steve, but he would need a dredging barge to get it out to the drop spot on the water! :-)))



          It may be different where you and I hale from, but I recently went through the whole research thing and eventually had my own permanent mooring installed. Most mooring areas here are controlled strictly by the various (many!) port/harbour/waterway/environmental authorities which require thatmoorings meet their citeria, and charge a fee (minimal, say $50PA). For this trouble, you have a permanent mooring which will NOT move (short of being swallowed by earthquake!). Mine is made of 2 locomotive wheels which sink very effectively into the mud, with an interlinking 1/2" chain 'bracelet', in turn shackled to a length of 1/2" chain plus a 10mm nylon tail and pick up buoy. The main chain is kept upright by a large buoy/marker. The buoy may
be picked up by an itinerant cruiser if I am absent, but the convention is that they must move on when asked, as must we all if arriving in a new anchorage after dark etc. Of course if someone takes the mooring and departs ashore long-term, then things get a little complicated but, thank goodness,this is a rarity. By the way, my rig cost me only $2000Aus, including contractor charges to fabricate the whole, and barge out to sink
it (about $1300 Green), plus $85Aus PA: Not bad when compared with marina

"Directors' Special"
C34 Mk2 (Oz Built) #615
Rhyll, Australia




You'd need some sort of mechanical assistance to set a standard 300-pound mushroom anchor too, no?

Steven Gaber
Sanderling, 1967 C-31 #77
Oldsmar, Florida